In a previous blog, I asked if there was life after Deere. Back in May I wrote about Clifford Pugh, the owner of Tri-County Equipment, a single-store John Deere dealer in Tennessee, who decided not to accept the only approved buyer Deere presented and opted to let the OEM terminate his contract. (Read more of his story here.)
Duane Nolden, co-owner of Middleton Power Center and Prairie Power Center in Wisconsin, reached out to me to let me know they recently experienced the same thing. (Read previous Season-to-Season coverage of the dealership.) To add insult to injury, Deere also sent out a “Closed” Dealership Notification Notice that simply said “Dealership closed – no replace” to Stihl and Honda on their last day as a Deere dealer. It didn’t take long for Nolden to receive a call from his Stihl rep who was confused and wondering if they should ship the order they had ready for Middleton Power Center. Nolden reassured them they were still very much in business (the second location in Sun Prairie, Wis., never had the Deere contract and is doing just fine.)
“One simple word would have avoided the confusion,” he says. “If they put ‘account closed’ instead of ‘dealership closed’ it would have made a huge difference.”
When our team went to visit Nolden earlier this month, it was clear the Honda and Stihl contracts were still intact. He says that Deere first notified him and his partner Ed Prochaska back in January and then they heard nothing for about 6 months. Normally, in instances like this Nolden says everything wraps up in about 30 days.
Middleton Power Center has taken on Yanmar for its tractor line, which they will carry at both stores. Unfortunately, due to the supply chain issues the entire industry is dealing with right now Nolden hasn’t been able to get any tractors into the stores.
Nolden says while Deere was a big part of their business, he’s not concerned about losing business. This year marks 20 years in business, and they have a well-established customer base and a number of brands. “People don’t want to drive 30 miles for their lawn equipment,” he says. The next two closest John Deere dealers to Middleton are both part of larger organizations, and both are more focused on large ag than the rural lifestyle market.
While the situation is certainly stressful, Nolden is ready to move on and they’re down to basically one box to get sent back to Deere. Right now, the dealership is looking toward snow season and whether they’ll be able to get the inventory they need. It’s likely no surprise that Nolden’s answer is no, but they are looking forward and trying to make the best of what they’ve got.